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British Canoeing - White Water Leader


Course Dates & Booking

Book Now

To book a place on this course, click on a date above to book and pay for the course, then complete and submit the Booking Form. If the following dates are not suitable, or you want to make a private booking for your club or centre, please get in touch.

Course Overview

Our British Canoeing White Water Leader course for kayakers and OC1 paddlers shows you the skills needed to lead exciting, safe and enjoyable journeys on grade 2 (3) rivers. As with all new British Canoeing leadership assessments, you can choose to access the assessment directly without the need for formal training, however we offer a variety of training options upon request.


Our two-day British Canoeing accredited training course covers everything you need to know for assessment but we can also arrange bespoke training for your individual needs if required. Our approach to leadership training is based on years of experience guiding and leading across different disciplines and in many locations across the world. It is not a blow-by-blow approach of ‘do this on this rapid’ to pass an assessment, but a logical approach to leading on white water that can be transferred to any river you lead or paddle on, whether it's your well known local run or a new river to explore. This will allow you to confidently lead paddlers in a safe, fun way on great sections of rivers whether on an assessment, for work or for play. 


What We’ll Cover

We'll teach you all you need to know about river reading. We will help you to break down the detail of the water movement through the rapids to enable you to predict where the flow will take your students, decide what tactics or options to give them based on their ability, and where best to position yourself. 


You'll learn how to break down the features and benchmark them against the abilities of the individual paddlers in your group, and we will coach you to use this information to lead safely and effectively. We will focus on helping you to develop your own techniques for breaking down the rapids and we can help you decide what options you'll give your group on the rapids, and coach you to develop your own options for making slick efficient progress down the river with your group.

Whilst our focus will be avoiding the need for rescue, we’ll look at some simple, quick solutions that work in the dynamic river environment, and how to go about the more complicated ones.


Our aim is to create relaxed, supportive, and friendly assessments that reflect a real day guiding clients. For your assessment you will plan and lead a day out on grade 2 (3) white water that fits the abilities of the group you'll be leading for the day. Just lead them in a safe, appropriate and fun way, on a river that suits the group and in a way that fits the individuals you are leading, and that will cover 90% of the assessment tasks. Inevitability there will be a few bits we haven't seen, (i.e trapped paddler or boat), so we’ll ask you to demonstrate your abilities in a clearly defined task.


Training Prerequisites​

  • We ask that you are happy paddling in the grade 2 environment so that you can focus on developing your skills to look after others.

Assessment Prerequisites

  • Full, on the water National Association membership. Click here if you live in England, here if you live in Wales and here if you live in Scotland.

  • Register for the course through your membership portal. Click here for registration guidance

  • Valid (within 3 years) 2-day First Aid Award recognised by British Canoeing Awarding Body

  • Valid (within 3 years) Safeguarding Training recognised by British Canoeing Awarding Body

  • Safety Award – White Water Safety and Rescue Training

  • Minimum age: 16. If you are aged under 18, you will need to be joined by a parent or legal guardian who has also paid to do the course

Course Documents

Further information available from British Canoeing here.

Kit List

Full personal kit, including:

  • White water spec kayak, with front and rear airbags

  • Well-fitting white water helmet

  • Paddle

  • Buoyancy aid

  • Dry suit or cag and waterproof trousers. 

  • Thermals

  • River shoes or old trainers (not wetsuit boots)

Please don't buy new items for the course, it is a great opportunity to try different options and make an informed purchase after. If you need any kit advice or to borrow anything, please get in touch before the course. Kayaks and dry suits are available for hire


The training course and assessment will take place on the rivers of the Lake District and adjoining Yorkshire Dales National Park. To make best use of the conditions we’ll choose the rivers based on the water levels and forecast immediately prior to the course. We'll confirm the meeting point for the first day at least 3 days prior to the course. If you are booking accommodation, Kendal is the ideal spot to base yourself as it provides the best access to the surrounding rivers.

What Happens Next?

Once you have completed your training, you’ll leave with a clear action plan for your progression towards assessment. To develop your paddling further, you may be interested in a bespoke coaching session or our Best Of The Lake District White Water, Intermediate White Water, or Intro To Steep Creeking courses. When you are ready for assessment please book on the dates available below.

Book Now

To book a place on this course, click above to book and pay for the course, then complete and submit the Booking Form. If the following dates are not suitable, or you want to make a private booking for your club or centre, please get in touch.

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